When hate is expressed by a lone ranger with evangelical pedigree, many of us ignore the hate as isolated because it is so far removed from anything that we have ever encountered within our own faith community. Our silence may be explainable, but it is not acceptable. When certain church leaders speak, we must also speak to ensure that those around us do not connect messages of hate as the Gospel message.
For this reason, I am choosing to respond to the sermon-gone-viral-video by Pastor Charles Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church just outside Maiden, North Carolina. (read the story here)
(1) I only ask for a level playing field that the Apostle Paul offered in Romans 1. Please round up the materialist, the gossip, the slanderer, the adulterer, the alcoholic and the pornographer. Do not overlook those who have divorced and remarried. Let us also not forget to include the 40-80% of evangelical males who use internet pornography – largely heterosexual pornography. Since I cannot claim to be without sin, I agree to turn myself in. You can fence me in too.
Pastor, this round-up is out-sizing your pasture. Before it gets entirely out of control, may I ask if there is an alternative? Maybe the Gospel is not about casting visions of LGBT+ people dying off, but rather laying down our lives for them. This seems to be what Christ has done for us. Pastor, should we follow you or Jesus?
(2) I only ask for a Jesus view of those who fall short of God’s glory. Jesus had a brief and blunt way of addressing bias. He simply said: “Do not judge or you too will be judged. With the measure you use, it WILL be measured unto you.” This does not neuter our ability to preach biblical truth – it does however demand that we not target others while accommodating our majority sins. That is what Pharisees do.
Pastor, you want those who violate biblical laws to die off. Jesus, on the other hand, never seemed to be shocked by mere sinners. He was usually shocked by religious leaders who too easily offered messages of condemnation rather than inviting people to come near the Savior. Paul taught in Romans 2:1-4, “When you a mere man judge others and yet do the same things (listed in Romans 1), do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of God’s kindness not realizing that his kindness, tolerance and patience lead you toward repentance.” Let us not forget – this too is a biblical law.
(3) I only ask that the impact of hateful statements on youth be wisely considered. Messages like yours have been demonstrated to incite bullies to tease and physically harm LGBT+ youth and young adults. Beyond bullying, the mere message alone increases the suicidal risk factors for young people who experience same-sex attraction. Hateful messages label them eternally separated from God and they lose hope. It is not hard for them to lose hope since many of them have been teased, bullied and rejected since an early age. Yet your message, as a spiritual father, has the power to do even more – it can push a vulnerable young person over the edge.
Pastor, I hope you will not ever change your convictions about what the bible teaches regarding morality, but I hope you will dramatically change the way you convey the Gospel to young people – especially those who already feel condemned and rejected by “the religious.” For the sake of Jesus, they need to hear that He is calling out to them – “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest for your soul.”
Before they can ever hear the voice of our Savior, they will need to see your remorse. With a congregation that applauds you, that will be hard to demonstrate. Yet all things are possible in Christ. It starts with you.
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